Yes, witnessing or even experiencing
the Holy Spirit in church.
Within the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement.
For ‘iron clad’ belief in God!
As soon as Jesus was baptised,
he went up out of the water.
At that moment heaven was opened,
and he saw the Spirit of God descending
like a dove and lighting on him.
And a voice from heaven said,
“This is my Son, whom I love;
with him I am well pleased.”
Now, even this article’s heading, and the description of contents at the top of this page, may ‘rattle’ some readers. And I admit that I had … REAL … trouble with it in my early days as a churchgoing Christian, let alone when I was an atheist. But look, I eventually found all the evidence I needed to have my mind changed. In a big way! You can have a read of the article, “Too good to be true?” for an overview of my story if you like.
Anyway, I had seen this church stuff on TV, supposedly empowered by the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of God). You know, when people collapse onto the floor after being touched by a preacher. Even as a Christian, I just guessed it was some hysteria sort of thing. And stuff going on, like miraculous healing and other ‘gifts of the Spirit’ such as prophecies … hmmm … I had real trouble, again, believing any of that was genuine too!
(I am from a senior auditing background and the majority of my advisory team are Christian clergy. To glimpse the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.)
My knowledge of Christianity was growing at that time of ‘fronting’ this stuff. I had probably been a practising Christian for a couple of years. And my ‘belief in God’ was at least shaping up as a result of my church-led journey of faith. I did wonder though from time to time whether that stuff going on, in what I termed the “wild side of Christianity”, just could be ‘for real’?
2. ENTERING THE MOVEMENT
‘Usually’ open-minded, and always inquisitive as that auditor I was, I finally decided to go to some of those relevant church services. As that baptised Christian that I was, I took time out from my own traditional/ mainline Protestant fellowship of faith to visit some Pentecostal churches recommended to me by a work colleague. Well, I was faced with stuff that, if it was real, took me back to what I had read in the Bible about first century spiritual events in the early Christian Church. Yes, this stuff had all supposedly happened before … a couple of thousand years ago, during the Lord’s incredible ‘launch’ of Christianity. Please see the article, “Jesus as God“.
AND, me being me, Mr Analytical, I knew I had to check it out properly. If all the events were indeed the ‘real deal’, then I had to get in touch with them. Yes, I wanted to actually experience the Holy Spirit in action, if at all possible.
I was not disappointed. I came to witness events even in those early days, relative to the Spirit, that were ‘apparently’ genuine to me. And they set off a chain reaction of questions in my mind. Plus, I can write with total confidence, that the ‘falling over’ stuff is not caused by hysteria. Yes, I found ‘clear’ evidence along the way that absolutely ruled that out. (Please read, “Is this Spirit stuff real?” – it is my final ‘audit report’ on the matter.)
Shortly after that first exposure though, and we are talking about decades ago, my own Protestant church offered a multi week course, that finished with a so-called “anointing of the Spirit”. There was a plan for our church to actually enter the ‘Charismatic’ movement. Talk about the timing being right!
Yes, my wife and I were on the receiving end of a number of different kinds of ‘gifts of the Spirit’ spread over a period of years. Details are included in other articles in this website section (explained later).
3. WHAT IS IT?
Now, my own ‘brain wiring’ ensures that I can only accept what knowledge, experience and reason bears out. I am not a dreamer. I am a thinker! My private life and past career as an auditor testifies to that. (Again, please click here for the who’s, how’s and why’s of this website.)
And even so, I came to be TOTALLY confident that these events occurring in the movement could ONLY be spiritually based! As such, I mean that I cannot even imagine any other cause. And boy have I tried hard to look for one! Faith that cannot stand up to constant challenge is not much use to anyone after all.
Bear in mind too that all of this stuff … is still happening … there in the movement, courtesy of the Holy Spirit, for anyone to check it out.
4. HOW, WHY AND WHEN DID IT START?
But, when and where did it all this ‘wild stuff’ begin in the modern Christian church? (I mean the Bible certainly made it clear that it was commonplace in the early Christian Church.)
Well, it ‘kind of’ started in a big way during 1905 at church services in a derelict building at the address 312 Azusa Street, Los Angeles, California in the USA. That was in fact the location and birth year of the Pentecostal movement, as far as some experts report. Other sources state, prior to that, the Holy Spirit created a spiritual revival in Wales, UK. The results of that ‘revival’ then travelled across the Atlantic by ship from Wales, within previously ‘anointed’ Christians, to cross the USA and finally arrive in LA for ‘lift off’.
So, as indicated above, it ‘erupted’, courtesy of the Lord, in LA. It went on to spread from Azusa Street, so successfully out through the world thanks to the growth of the “Pentecostal” movement. And later, its ‘essence’ was absorbed by those mainline/ traditional churches that opened themselves to it. That in turn began during the 1960s, and is now known as the “Charismatic” movement.
As such, I don’t think that the creation of the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement was any accident. My guess is that the Lord always knew that from the 20th century onwards – because of ‘changing times’ and lack of understanding – many people would struggle with the possibility of God’s existence. And that would prevent them from even trying faith for themselves.
I believe his plan then was to give anyone interested in trialling Christian faith the opportunity to experience, or at least recognise, his ‘actual presence‘ in this area of the wider Christian Church.
And think about it! My understanding is that there are now more than ‘600 million’ Christians in the world-wide ‘Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement’. Yes, that’s a lot of people giving this area of the Church a ‘go’. And it is still growing rapidly. The ‘movement’ HAS drawn a lot of people to the Lord … indeed, as I consider, he had planned!
5. ANOINTING/ FILLING BY THE SPIRIT
Firstly then, let us look at ‘anointing’ or ‘filling’, and the ‘falling over’ stuff. I often use the term, “touched by the Spirit” in this website as an alternative to being ‘anointed’ or ‘filled’.
Now remember, the Bible insists that God loves each of us deeply. As such he wants a meaningful and loving relationship with you, just as he does with me. The Bible makes it clear that God in ‘the person of Jesus‘ died an agonising death for that very reason. This all relates to God’s ‘grace‘. And filling/ anointing/ touching is a method he uses to quickly demonstrate his desire for that potentially ‘everlasting’ relationship with us.
5.1 How do we receive it?
Essentially the effect, and result of being touched (anointed/ filled) by the Spirit, is to a large degree passed on through baptised Christians, who themselves have already been touched in the past. That is they pass it on, empowered by the Spirit, to other baptised Christians who have not been touched previously.
So the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement mainly revolves around a chain reaction of this blessing, empowered by the Holy Spirit. And bear in mind that not everyone touched does actually fall over. No, the effects of touching are all worked out by the Spirit, as far as us individuals are concerned. Mind you, all people touched by the Spirit in this way will definitely know that it has happened. That is they will have an ‘experience’ that makes it clear to them, IF they are open to the Spirit and ready for the experience. And some people will have a more powerful experience than others. Basically, the Spirit gives ‘each of us’ an experience that he knows is just right for ‘each of us’.
5.2 What does it feel like though?
What does the ‘touching’ feel like? Well, it’s not like being tapped on the shoulder or something. No, you generally, but not always, feel the contact with the Spirit through your whole being. And you can feel it to varying degrees as I’ve explained. (Please note, there are also some different kinds of ‘touches from the Spirit’, carrying differing purposes and messages which are explained elsewhere on this website).
If the normal touching experience is powerful, then it is likely that the receiving Christian will be so affected they will fall down. In some churches, while members of the fellowship are being touched, other members will place themselves to catch them if they do fall. But in other churches, catchers are not used. The idea is that using catchers may encourage faking. And … sadly … hmmm yes … I can personally vouch for that! You can also read all about it in the previously mentioned article, “Is this Spirit stuff real”.
As far as Mr Analytical (i.e. me) is concerned, being touched is an incredible event to experience. And that is especially so when receiving it for the first time. But is it real, you may still ask yourself? Well, yet again, click that link above.
6. GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT
As incredible as being touched by the Holy Spirit is concerned – and as belief and faith building that it is – it can lead to even more amazing events and experiences. I am referring to the manifestation of the ‘gifts of the Spirit’ here. You see, it is not unusual for the Spirit to bless, those being ‘touched’, with the ability to perform unexplainable and physically impossible deeds in the future. Yes, that may look like a crazy statement, but just trust me for now. These so-called “gifts” are detailed in the Bible, see 1 Corinthians 12.
Some of the gifts included are:
And look, if you are anything like I was when I first read about those ‘gifts’ … well, you are probably shaking your head right now. But, I am TOTALLY confident now that it is all real. Yes, and again I am sure if it can convince me, then it can convince anyone. That is IF they expose themselves to it.
All of the above gifts listed as ‘bullet points’ are discussed individually under the sub-heading, “Gifts of the Spirit” in the Menu Bar above, in this “God in church” section of the website. Please bear with me AND read those following articles about ‘gifts.’ I hope the possibilities/ probabilities will become obvious to you as a result.
7. YES, THEY DO HAVE A REAL PURPOSE!
Yes yet again, these things actually DO happen!
This stuff – these ‘gifts of the Spirit’ being applied, or even the sensation of just being ‘touched’ by the Spirit – can be so incredible to witness and even more so to experience. Again from my point of view, it can occasionally take us even beyond the boundaries of our imagination as to what might be possible at all.
But please understand that these gifts, as they are manifested before us, are not to be understood as the ‘be-all and end-all’. As dramatic as they can be, they are to be ‘understood in perspective‘. The Holy Spirit offers them to us – as explained earlier. That is to draw us to, and then ‘fuel’ our relationship with, our Lord. They certainly encourage us to move all the more rapidly into a deeper, more meaningful and loving relationship with him. Yes again, to seriously engage with God, as he desires of each and everyone of us.
Now, maybe you won’t see, let us say, powerful healing miracles at the very first Pentecostal/ Charismatic service you attend. But none-the-less, attendance there should at least give you regular exposure to events, that are clearly NOT logically explainable. I am obviously writing about supernatural events that, as suggested above, were treated as ‘matter of fact’ in the early Church and recorded in the Bible as such.
Briefly, these events are available to be either witnessed or experienced by us in the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement of the greater Christian Church. The differing types of fellowships of faith, available for us to attend, and what types of services they offer, are offered in the article, “Choosing a church”.
I accept that many readers, particularly thinkers like me, will find all this ‘difficult to swallow’. It is ultimately up to each of us to take a ‘brave pill’ and attend these services for ourselves. Just as I did, when I began, decades ago.
And all I can say here, at this point, is wait until you face these experiences. If you are open and ready, and you do attend these types of services, then you will more than likely receive solid evidence of God’s presence there.
Better still, if you choose to become a baptised member of one of these churches, then God will likely be prepared to engage with you big time. That is if you are open to it! Yes, we may well ask “Why is God invisible?“, but my goodness he has the ability, when the time is right for him, to clearly demonstrate to each of us that he is indeed present in this world. Yes, we faithful Christians can ‘have our lives transformed‘ as a result.
Yet again, I suggest that you read the article, “Is this Spirit stuff real?” It could be a useful guide for your own evaluation.
Or continue to the first article, “Miracle healing” in the following subsection, “Gifts of the Spirit”.